Report on violations of Roma rights in Belarus sent to UN
Human rights activists have submitted to the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination an alternative report on the implementation by the Republic of Belarus of the corresponding UN Convention. The report's authors concluded that the Roma in Belarus are subject to discrimination, particularly in employment, resulting in exclusion, extreme poverty, criminalization of the country’s Roma population.
According to the report, in Belarus the government “not only fails to take measures to improve the situation of the Roma population, but also subjects Roma people to repressions for the very fact of their miserable situation.” This is reflected in the persecution of the Roma who are below the poverty line, cannot pay the ‘tax on parasitism’ or prove the legal origin of their income. The situation is exacerbated by threats of removing the children in low-income families.
“Lack of state job placement programs and the impossibility of finding a legal means of earning a living have pushed some members of the Roma community into crime, which, given the prosecutorial bias of the Belarusian justice system overall and the animosity the law enforcement system has for Roma in particular, results in a disproportionately high number of Roma people (in comparison with the percentage of the Roma population of the country) in prisons and penal institutions of Belarus,” says the Report.
The human rights activists consider it necessary to take the following measures to protect the rights of Roma in Belarus: adopt and implement a program to ensure the rights of all Roma people to a mandatory complete education and employment in their specializations; put an end to ethnic profiling and discrimination against members of the Roma minority by police officers in the course of detentions, arrests, and other police activities; ensure that courts treat Roma in a non-discriminatory manner; conduct a serious review of all statements on discrimination, including regarding violations of the rights of prisoners in jails and correctional colonies.
The report entitled From Penury to Prison: The Vicious Circle of Rights Violations Against the Roma of Belarus is based on the materials collected by employees of the ADC “Memorial” during a field mission in Belarus in the fall of 2017 and prepared with the participation of the International Center of Civil Initiatives “Our House”. The document was presented at the 94th session of the UN Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination to be held from November 20 to December 8 in Geneva. The Committee is expected to consider the 20th-23rd periodic reports of the Belarusian government.